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Squash: Scots out to make double trouble

As he celebrated his Commonwealth Games selection last week, fast- improving Greg Lobban outlined why he and his fellow squash players believe they can cause major upsets and win medals in Glasgow in August.

Greg Lobban believes he and his team-mates can cause a shock at the Commonwealth Games  Photograph: SNS
Greg Lobban believes he and his team-mates can cause a shock at the Commonwealth Games Photograph: SNS

The 21-year-old from Inverness is beginning to challenge the long-established Scottish No 1, Alan Clyne, when they meet in singles, so seemed the most obvious of choices to be among the last three squash representatives in the Games team.

Instead, however, he and his veteran doubles partner Stuart Crawford, 12 years his senior, were made to fight every inch of the way before effectively clinching their places with multiple wins in the recent Scottish Open doubles, over Clyne and Harry Leitch, who together took fourth place at the last Games in Delhi.

"It's been a bit of a sweat … a long year with a lot of questions from family and friends and people involved in squash saying they have tickets for the Games and asking if they're going to see me in action and me having to say I don't know yet," Lobban said.

"The last selection events we've proven ourselves to be the top or the second top Scottish pair. We knew two pairs were going to be selected, so it's just a huge sense of achievement to get the confirmation.

"As part of the criteria we needed a big win and Alan and Harry had already been selected last year, so they were down as the No 1 pairing. Managing to beat them at the Scottish Open was probably the clincher and we managed to do it a few times.

"There was huge pressure. We actually needed to play the other Scottish pair, Douglas Kempsell and Lyall Paterson and we had to play them on the first day which was tougher mentally than physically because there was a lot on the match."

Lobban knows, however, that Roger Flynn, Scotland's hard-bitten coach who has brought with him a tough competitive edge after success in his native Australia, was simply seeking to ensure the readiness of whichever pair got through for the battles ahead.

"I think if we got handed it right at the start there might not have been the same sense of achievement," Lobban acknowledged. "If that had happened I don't think we would have felt the way we do, but we know we've worked hard for this and it's the goal we had set. So for it to be official now is great. It's a fantastic feeling."

The Scots believe they have an edge, having concentrated on this relatively rarely played version of the sport, and gained confidence in their partnerships after exposure to players ranked higher as individuals.

"Doubles comes round every four years and as a nation we actually focus on it a lot more than others," Lobban said. "We've built up a reputation of competing very well in doubles. Alan and Harry beat one of the top English pairs at the last Games which was a big shock. I think that sent a message to the other nations that we're not just here to make up the numbers, we're here to be in medal contention and create a few upsets.

"Stuart and I have done well over the last year at several selection events, too. We've competed against some of the strongest pairings. David Palmer of Australia has won medals at several Commonwealth Games and we played him and his partner in Australia last year and competed well. It wasn't a match we came off thinking they were far superior to us, so our confidence is high and there's certainly no doubt that we can be in medal contention."

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